Ross (born in San Francisco, California, on June 13, 1902) directed several pictures for Universal Studios in the 1920s (Ridin' Wild, 1922; Pure Grit, 1923; The Slanderers, 1924; College Love, 1929) before turning to producing in the 1930s with films like The Man from Gun-Town (1935), The Outlaw Deputy (1935), and Crash Donovan (1936). The one-time assistant to producer Irving Thalberg was out of the movie business by 1941 and was the co-owner-night foreman at a rag factory on S. Broadway in midtown Los Angeles. On the night of February 21, 1941, Ross was informed by a co-worker that Maurice ((M.) L. Briggs, 25, was outside waiting to speak with him. A few weeks earlier, Ross fired the man, an ex-convict who served three years in a South Carolina prison for bank robbery. Less than two weeks earlier an intoxicated Briggs had turned up at the factory and threatened Ross with a pocket knife. Complicating the situation was the ex-con's 21-year-old estranged wife, Betty Susan Briggs, a worker at the rag factory supervised by the 38-year-old former film director. After only two weeks of marriage, the woman left Briggs in December 1940. Convinced that Ross was "chasing around" with his wife, the jealous ex-con decided to confront him. When Ross went outside to meet the disgruntled former-employee, Briggs fired two rounds from a .25-.35 caliber rifle into the man's chest killing him instantly. Twenty-five horrified employees witnessed the murder and saw the assailant flee the scene on foot. Briggs was arrested a few minutes later after he was observed tossing the rifle on a lawn. Stopped by a pedestrian and asked why he was discarding the gun, Briggs reportedly answered, "Oh, I just killed a guy. Better call the cops."